It’s hard for me to remember exactly when I started paying attention to the beauty in images – noticing the color of light, the depth of field, composition. But I can tell you exactly when images themselves became immensely important to me. I’m pretty sure it started with the image on the left.
It’s my little sister Lora and I. Nothing spectacular about it. It was taken in a Shoney’s parking lot. On a very overcast day. The weekend of my college graduation and just a short couple of hours before she boarded a plane to go back to finish her freshman year in college. No, it doesn’t look especially amazing. But it was special. Because as fate had it, it was the last picture I’d ever take with her. What stands out to me about this picture, besides it being our last, is that we almost didn’t get it. We had just finished breakfast, and my out-of-town family (including Lora) was in a bit of a rush to get to the airport. I don’t remember who suggested it or insisted. I think maybe me. On second thought, it might have been Lora. But the point is, we paused a moment to take them. Pictures of my family. And that last squishy-sweet one that is (was?) so us.
Just after, my best friend Ginger and I scooted Lora to the airport. I asked if she wanted me to wait with her for her flight (back when you could) but she shrugged it off and said no; our grandparents were going to be there. She wanted to spend a little time waiting with them. We exchanged a hurried hug and kiss good bye. I promised to meet up with her to get the matching tattoos she’d suggested when she went on a college singing tour and would be in close-by Kentucky that summer. One more hug. And she was gone. She was killed in a car wreck and taken from us just two weeks later. That summer is the first that I remember photography and pictures – recording moments in time that you can’t really get back – became important to me.
Note: Lora's Sister Crystal, as a side-effect of Lora's passing, became a photographer. Her work and musings may be viewed on her own site, Crystal Butler Photography.